Glass reacts to shifts in sun, wind to show that a window can be both beautiful and smart | The American Ceramic Society

Glass reacts to shifts in sun, wind to show that a window can be both beautiful and smart


[Image above] Much like a kaleidoscope, Dutch designer Simon Heijdens’s smart window creates a glittering display of light that shifts based on the movement of sunlight and wind. Credit: Studio Simon Heijdens; Vimeo


As a communicator in 2014, very little paper ever makes an appearance in my increasingly digital world. So to say that a lot of cool things come across my desk may be a misnomer—what I really mean by “my desk” is “my screen.” Nonetheless, lots of cool things come across my screen.

One of the coolest (and prettiest) of late is Simon Heijdens’s smart window.

Part art, part science, Shade reacts to the movement of the outside world to create a spectacular display of indoor light. As sunlight and wind shifts throughout the day, so, too, does the light from Shade’s glass paneling. Tiny triangles in the glass that are coated with a special film cause the cells to change transparency as the hours pass.

According to the Dutch designer’s website,

“A cellular glass facade that filters natural sunlight into a moving kaleidoscope of light and shadow, directly choreographed by the elements passing outside, to restore the unplanned natural timeline of the outdoors to the interior of the building.


The 140 m2 responsive glass curve transfuses light varyingly throughout the day, from sharp in the morning to ambient in the afternoon. Wind gusts that pass the building outside directly affect the cells in the glass to turn from opaque to clear, thus passing or blocking sunlight to create a dimensional projection of light and shadow onto the floors and walls of the interior space. As the patterns of wind and the quality of light are constantly changing throughout the day, the interior space regains the unplanned character of the outdoors. At night, the principle is inverted, and interior light is filtered to the outside and projects the kaleidoscopic pattern onto the surrounding pavement.”

Shade, originally commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago, is currently on display through December 19 at Now Gallery and, according to Heijdens, is best viewed in early light.

If you can’t make it to London Town to see it for yourself, take 40 seconds to see it glitter and gleam in this video from Heijdens’s Vimeo channel.

Credit: Studio Simon Heijdens; Vimeo